Cream cheese is delicious. It’s smooth, silky, and rich, great when it’s salty or sweet (oh man, try throwing it on your smoker) and is pretty much just spreadable milk, when you think about it. Mmm... spreadable milk. But these days there’s about a million different varieties for your bagels, sandwiches, dips, or dessert, and I’ve found myself reaching for one particular type more and more, and that’s whipped cream cheese.
I used to hate the stuff and was convinced the fluffy and airy cream cheese existed so dairy companies could rip you off by selling you less cheese and more air. But I’ve found out that it really shines for one particular purpose.
Regular cream cheese is great when it’s an ingredient for cooking and baking. Hell, we love it so much we even wrote a slideshow on some of the many ways we like using it. Appetizers, snacks, dips—there’s not a lot of things in the world that can’t be improved by the addition of cream cheese.
It makes a great ingredient for ice cream bases (Jeni’s ice cream is cream cheese-based), because there are stabilizers in it that give dairy a little bit of chewiness. And who doesn’t love chewable dairy? If you buy cream cheese in blocks, you can even just eat it like a candy bar, but the last time I did that on public transit I got some really weird looks.
I’m starting to come around to whipped cream cheese now for one reason: it saves me time.
A block of cream cheese isn’t all that friendly for spreading when you take it right out of the fridge. You have to let it sit for more than a few minutes if you want it to be at a convenient spreading consistency. But the whipped stuff? You can use that shit immediately.
I’ve been keeping a small stash of grocery store bagels in the fridge here at work, and whipped cream cheese has been a godsend. Not only is it soft right out of the container, I can actually spread it on my bagels without making an extraordinary mess. Plus, I’m back at my desk in no time at all.
The addition of air that I was griping about earlier is also a boon in that it acts to make the cream cheese particularly fluffy, giving it sort of a fun, not so heavy feel. (I will concede that it’s not as good as an accompaniment to lox, however, because it’s not thick enough to feel like the luxurious pal to smooth smoked salmon.)
So go ahead, when you’re at the store, grab a tub of the whipped stuff. Your bagels will be glad that you did.